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The First Domino: Eisenhower, the Military, and America's Intervention in Vietnam Hardcover – November, 1991

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 444 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (November 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688096409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688096403
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This impressively detailed study traces the gradual U.S. entanglement in Vietnam, from the early days of the Truman administration to the early 1960s when the South Vietnamese government formally requested that President Kennedy send U.S. Special Forces teams. Arnold discusses Truman's rejection of Ho Chi Minh and the Vietminh version of Vietnamese nationalism, explains our reluctant support of France's post-WW II colonial reassertion in Southeast Asia, recounts how North Korea's 1950 invasion of the South caused immediate reverberations in Vietnam and reveals how close the U.S. came to direct military intervention in 1954 during the Vietminh's siege of the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu. The book also analyzes President Eisenhower's critical 1955 decisions relating to Indochina: accepting the burden of training the South Vietnamese Army, authorizing the creation of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization and aligning U.S. policy with the flawed leadership of President Ngo Dinh Diem. By the author of the Bantam History of the Vietnam War , this authoritative review explains clearly how the U.S. got caught in the quagmire. Photos.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Arnold offers a balanced, concise introduction to the decision-making surrounding American intervention in Vietnam. He concentrates on the Eisenhower administration (1953-61), but provides the needed background with a survey of the Truman years and touches on how existing policy affected the Kennedy team. The influence of prominent individuals (John Foster Dulles, Arthur Radford, "Lightning Joe" Collins, Ngo Dinh Diem, and the always-fascinating Edward Lansdale) on the sometimes torturous foreign policy process is a key element in understanding the rationale underlying White House actions. Arnold provides the necessary preface to the final scenes on the embassy roof in Saigon. Recommended for Vietnam collections.
- John R. Vallely, Siena Coll. Lib., Loudonville, N.Y.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Years ago my wife and I rented a former slave cabin on a plantation in Upperville, Virginia. The landlord was the grandson of a trooper who served with partisan leader John Mosby (the Gray Ghost). The doorstop was a ten-pound Parrott rifle shell recovered from the upper hay field (a cavalry skirmish had extended across the fields in 1863). Across Goose Creek was an historical marker signifying the place where Mosby's band first mustered. Here, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains we were surrounded by history and I began writing "The Cost of Freedom."

While my day job focused on military history, this was not what I wanted to write about in my novel. Instead, I was interested in how individuals confronted stark personal and moral choices as the great issue of the day -- secession -- threatened to rend the fabric of the lives. No such examination could ignore the salient role of slavery.

Research was profoundly enjoyable with each discovery bringing a new set of questions about motivation and loyalty: finding "The Journals of Amanda Virginia Edmonds" upon whom my Amanda is based and meeting her descendants; driving up a plantation lane to purchase our Thanksgiving turkey and seeing the antebellum, double decker balcony from where each year the elderly matron stood to bless the local hunt -- the inspiration for my race between Armistead and Min; finding a Confederate flag sewn by the local women at a small county museum with the hand-painted inscription "Go and Fight!" -- the basis for my scene where Amanda presents the colors to the Loudoun Grays; learning that a Union-loyal, Alabama-born officer had evaded Stonewall Jackson's trap at Harpers Ferry to lead yankee cavalry to safety, and realizing that my Armistead Carter had to help him find the way.

Well-crafted historical fiction has been a source of joy in my life; Dorothy Dunnett's epic sagas, Patrick O'Brian's sea-faring tales. They are page-turning adventure stories and explorations of character. If my "Cost of Freedom" can achieve even a faint echo of those wonderful reads, then I will be satisfied.

James R. Arnold is the author of more than twenty-five books devoted to military history and leadership. His published works include Presidents Under Fire, a study of how American presidents perform as war leaders, Grant Wins the War, a campaign study of Vicksburg, and Jeff Davis's Own, the story of the future Civil War generals who served on the Texas frontier during the Indian Wars. Arnold is the founder of Napoleon Books, a niche publishing venture devoted to Napoleonic studies. His most recent book, The Moro War (Bloomsbury Press, 2011) examines the first U.S. war against an Islamic insurgency. He has also written forty-two library reference books for young adults that address the social and historical events associated with colonial America, the American and French Revolutions, the Industrial Revolution and the American Civil War. Arnold and his wife live on a farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Russian Reader on April 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James R. Arnold's book is an interesting examination of what was happening within the world during the 1950s. Those policy makers within the United States feared the Soviet Union and spread of the Communist Idealology throughout the world while the United States stood stedfast against those who were wishing to spread Commuinism. However, the book primarily focuses on what Eisenhower was attempting to accomplish with his policies and how the State Department was dictating those policies that America was pushing throughout the world. As an historian, we must look at the world threw two lenses. One lense shows the USSR and its goals of shaping the world through the spread of Communism while the second lense shows the United States shaping its goals through the sopread of Democracy.
In examining the aspects of the Vietnam War as a whole, one must ask themselves could Eisenhower done more to aid the French in their fight against those Communist forces under Ho Chi Minh? This book delves into this question and others surrounding America's involvement.
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